KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) -- America's most prominent civil rights group released a report this week accusing some tea party figures of having ties to racist groups and called on the movement to oust any activists who promote racism.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) report, released two weeks before the U.S. congressional and gubernatorial elections, followed up on a resolution approved by the organization last summer condemning "racist elements and activities" in the tea party.
The tea party is a loosely organized network of local groups that promotes limited government and has no central leadership. But organizations that monitor hate groups say it has attracted some racist elements because of its mostly white membership and because some tea party groups advocate a tough stance on illegal immigration. Persons carrying racist signs have appeared at some tea party rallies.
The report cited more than a dozen tea party activists with racist ties, but the authors said they would release more names each week on their website. Those cited included a tea party leader in Texas who had once been listed as a supporter of a Ku Klux Klan group and a tea party radio show host who had allegedly invited anti-Semitic guests on his program. Leaders of the tea party movement have rejected charges that the movement promotes racism.
NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous wrote in the report that most tea party supporters are "people of good will."
"Our request to the majority in the tea party is to stand up and speak out and be clear that there is no room in the tea party for people who would espouse racism, xenophobia or advocate violence toward any group," Jealous said in a phone interview.
Some tea party leaders charged that the report was designed to undercut the tea party's political influence as the Nov. 2 election approaches. Some tea party groups are supporting Republican candidates.
"I think this is a political attempt to tie crazy people together with a movement that is not about what these people are about," said Max Pappas, vice president of public policy for FreedomWorks, an organization that works with tea party supporters.
The report was produced by the Kansas City-based Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, which is headed by a lifetime NAACP member. The NAACP said it did not fund the research, and the institute said the findings were based on an examination of government documents and tea party members' writings and on observations at rallies.
The report alleges that Dale Robertson, who founded the 1776 Tea Party group in Houston, has promoted anti-Semitic speakers on his "Tea Party Hour" radio program. Robertson has denied in interviews that he is a racist. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The report also accused the leader of another Texas group of subscribing to the "White Patriot" newsletter and of being a listed supporter of an Arkansas Klan group in the 1990s.
The NAACP Report on Tea Party Nationalism